Mount Elgon National Park lies on the Uganda – Kenya boarder east of the town of Mbale. The park size covers 1,145 square kilometres. The park is named the mountain of the same name which is the 8th highest mountains in Africa at 4,321m, with the largest base of any extinct volcano in the world.
This volcano is estimated to have first erupted more than 20 million years ago and it is thought to have remained active for another 14 million years. The tallest peak is on the Ugandan side of the border is called Wagagai peak (4,321m). The other three peaks on the Kenyan side are Sudek (4,302m), Kuitobos (4,222m), Mubiyi (4,211m), with Masaba (4,161m) in Uganda.
The first European to reach the mountains lower slopes was Joseph Thompson who observed it from the direction of Masai land in 1883 and named it the Mount Elgon. Elgon is an important watershed and its slopes support a rich variety of attitudinal vegetation raging from montane forest to high open moorland studded with the other worldly Giant lobelia and Groundsel plants.
Vegetation and wildlife
The park’s vegetation is characterized by tall afromontane forest, below 2500m and low canopy montane forest and bamboo between 2500m and 3000m.
Other attractions are the ancient paintings close to the hiking trail head at Budadiri, and spectacular caves and hot springs within the crater. A variety of forest monkeys, small antelope, elephant, buffalo and sitatunga have found a home on the mountain. The mountain also supports a rich variety of forest birds like Jackson francolin, Green tinker bird, Alpine chat, and Red throated wryneck among others.
When to hike
June – August and from December – March are the best seasons when its dry.
Where to stay
Many visitors stay in Mbale prior to trekking on the mountain at either:
- Mbale Resort – Upmarket
- Sunrise Inn – Mid Range
- Mount Elgon Hotel – Upmarket
- Landmark Inn – Budget
This series of waterfalls commands some amazing views over the surrounding countryside. Many of the falls can be accessed by foot as well as viewed from a far. There are several accommodation venues at Sipi that dominate the view of the main falls. Thee include:
- Sipi Falls Resort – Mid range
- Lacam Lodge- Upmarket
- Sipi River Lodge – Budget